Electricity supply has been restored at Ukraine’s Chernobyl nuclear power plant, which was seized by Russian forces in the early days of the invasion, energy officials in Kiev said on Sunday.
The restoration of electricity to the decommissioned site means that the cooling systems will now operate normally and will not need to use emergency power.
Ukrainian nuclear company Energoatom had previously warned that radioactive substances could be released if a high-voltage power line to the plant was not repaired after being damaged in the fighting.
“Today, thanks to the incredible efforts of Ukrainian energy specialists, our nuclear engineers and electricians succeeded in restoring the power supply to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, which was seized by the Russian occupiers,” said the Ukrainian Energy Minister German Galushchenko in a statement. .
“Our Ukrainian energy engineers, by risking their own health and lives, were able to avert the risk of a possible nuclear disaster that threatened the whole of Europe,” he added.
On February 24, Russia invaded Ukraine and seized the former Chernobyl plant, the site of a 1986 disaster that killed hundreds and spread radioactive contamination west across the country. ‘Europe.
Electricity supply has been restored at Ukraine’s retired Chernobyl nuclear power plant (file photo) which was seized by Russian forces in the early days of the invasion
Russian tanks and armored vehicles are parked just outside the destroyed reactor in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone on the day the plant was taken over
Russian forces cut power to the plant and the site was forced to operate with emergency diesel-powered backup generators, although the UN’s atomic watchdog said there was no had “no critical safety impact”.
Site personnel have been working under Russian guard since they took control of the nuclear plant.
The UN’s atomic watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), warned earlier this week that the personnel situation was “worsening”.
The old factory is inside an exclusion zone that houses decommissioned reactors as well as radioactive waste facilities.
In 2016, the new Chernobyl safety containment was put in place to cover the reactor. It was designed to prevent further releases of radioactive contaminants for 100 years.
More than 2,000 employees still work at the plant as it requires constant management to prevent another nuclear disaster.
The director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, on Tuesday called on “the forces that effectively control the site to urgently facilitate the safe rotation of personnel on site”.
He also reiterated his offer to travel to Chernobyl or elsewhere to ensure “commitment to the safety and security” of Ukrainian power plants from all parties.
“The Director General reported that remote transmission of data from safeguards monitoring systems installed at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant had been lost,” the IAEA said in a statement.
A sudden power surge at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant led to a massive reactor explosion, exposing the core and blanketing the western Soviet Union and Europe in radiation in 1986. Pictured is the Chernobyl power plant three days later the explosion of April 29, 1986
Russia took control of the defunct atomic power plant on the first day of the invasion and then captured a second nuclear site – Zaporizhzhia – the largest in Europe – on March 4, sparking a fire that raised the alarm in Europe on a possible nuclear disaster.
Last week, staff at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant were filmed begging Russian soldiers to direct fire at the building before they caught up to it.
The nuclear power plant, which produces around 20% of Ukraine’s electricity, was captured after a violent gunfight between Russian President Vladimir Putin’s men and Ukrainian defenders sparked a fire in a six-story training building floors.
Eventually, emergency crews were allowed in and put out the flames at the Zaporizhzhia plant before Russian troops moved in and occupied the site.
The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant was captured on March 4 after a violent firefight between Russian President Vladimir Putin’s men and Ukrainian defenders
The United Nations nuclear monitoring agency said that fortunately none of the six reactors at the site had been directly damaged and radiation levels remained normal.
Russian engineers arrived in Zaporizhzhia earlier this week to check radiation levels.
Safeguards track nuclear materials and waste generated by nuclear power plants.
The IAEA has urged Russian authorities to clear the departure of the 210 staff held captive at Chernobyl, arguing that although radiation levels in the area are relatively low, there is a need to ensure a ‘safe rotation’ of staff .
WHAT HAPPENED DURING THE 1986 CHERNOBYL NUCLEAR CATASTROPHE?
On April 26, 1986, a power plant on the outskirts of Pripyat suffered a massive accident in which one of the reactors caught fire and exploded, spreading radioactive material to the surrounding area.
More than 160,000 residents of the city and surrounding areas had to be evacuated and were unable to return, leaving the former Soviet site as a radioactive ghost town.
A map of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone is shown above. The ‘ghost town’ of Pripyat is near the disaster site
The exclusion zone, which covers a significant area in Ukraine and part of neighboring Belarus, will remain in effect for generations to come, until radiation levels fall to safe enough levels.
The region is called a “dead zone” due to the significant radiation that persists.
However, the proliferation of wildlife in the area contradicts this and many argue that the area should be given over to the animals that have established themselves in the area – creating a radioactive protected wildlife sanctuary.